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Posts from November 2009

Macy's Parade and Thanksgiving Day

It's a tradition in the United States.  Every Thanksgiving over 40 million people get up early enough to tune in and watch at least part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This parade has become a Thanksgiving tradition for some, right behind eating turkey and watching the Cowboys and Lions play football on TV.

Here are some interesting facts about this parade:

  • The first Macy's parade was in 1924 but didn't have balloons.  They borrowed animals from the Central Park Zoo.
  • Large balloons weren't used until 1927 and Felix the Cat was the first one used.
  • Helium was used after the first year.  Before that, just regular air was used. 
  • At first, the helium balloons were released at the end of the parade.  The huge balloons had address labels affixed to them.  The lucky finder of the large balloons could return them to Macy's for a $100 gift certificate.
  • The 1941 parade occurred before the beginning of the US entering World War II.  It featured a large Uncle Sam.  Once the war began, the balloon was donated to the war effort for it's rubber by Macy's.
  • The balloons are inflated by volunteers the night before the parade.  They are unfolded, a net is placed over them and they are weighed down.  It takes six hours to inflate them.
  • Volunteers guide the balloons through the route.  Some balloons require 50 volunteers.  (Remember the episode of Seinfeld?)
  • Bullwinkle is the oldest and most popular balloon used today.
  • Mickey Mouse first appeared in 1934.  Goofy showed up later.
  • Snoopy showed up in the late 1960s and has remained a favorite.  He's worn six costumes: astronaut, king, ice skater, WWI flying ace and others.
  • Charlie Brown has shown up as well, trying to kick an balloon football.
  • Other characters include: Woody Woodpecker, SpongeBob Squarpants, Garfield, The Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny & the Rugrats.
  • It's Sesame Street's 40th anniversary.  Some of their characters have shown up as well:  Big Bird, Kermit and Grover (and Super Grover).
  • The biggest balloon ever was Superman.  He's appeared at different times since 1940.
  • In 1957, Popeye's sailor hat filled with water.  It became so heavy that it tipped and spilled water on a number of people.
  • In 1958 there was a shortage of helium, so the balloons were filled with regular air and held up with cranes.
  • In 1971 Mickey Mouse was cancelled due to high winds and fear his ears would work like sails and blow him away.
  • In 1997 the wind blew The Cat in the Hat into a light pole.
  • In 2005 the M&Ms hit a light as well and injured some people.
  • When does the Christmas season officially start?  When Santa arrives at the end of the parade of course.

Well, enjoy the parade.  Eat some turkey.  Let that chemical in the turkey knock you out and take a good nap and wake up to watch some football.  But, in the midst of it all, take the time to thank God for all His blessings.  Don't feel very thankful?  I believe God can and will remind you of what you can be thankful for on this day.  Have a good one.

Here are some classic photos from past parades:

Gal_balloon_1934_mickeymouse

Gal_balloon_1938_unclesam

Gal_balloon_1957_popeye

Gal_balloon_1963_bullwinkle

Gal_balloon_1966_superman

Gal_balloon_1969_snoopy

 
 
 
 
 


God is Big

You've probably seen these before.  Like a lot of things, these get emailed around to everyone and show up in your inbox about once a year.  Still, it's good to remember how big our God is (which is unimaginable) and by seeing these images, I'm overwhelmed that God would love us the way He does.

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"The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. but who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him? 2 Chronicles 2:5-6 NIV


Don't Waste Your Cancer - from John Piper

As I looked over our church prayer list on Wednesday night, once again I was staring at names of friends, loved ones, church members and attenders all battling a form of cancer.  It seems that this list grows larger every day.  We continually pray for these individuals for healing and peace.  Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota has a far reaching ministry.  As a writer and blogger, he shares deep thoughts related to issues many would rather avoid.  A friend forwarded me a link to Piper's blog that referenced his take on cancer and the battle that comes for those diagnosed.  I thought I'd share it here. 

Here's the direct link to Piper's blog post - http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2006/1776_Dont_Waste_Your_Cancer/

[Editor's Note: Our friend, David Powlison, of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, who also was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, has added some helpful expansions to John Piper’s ten points. Indented paragraphs beginning with "DP:" are written by David Powlison.]

I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.

DP: I (David Powlison) add these reflections on John Piper’s words the morning after receiving news that I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer (March 3, 2006). The ten main points and first paragraphs are his; the second paragraphs are mine.

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.

DP: Recognizing his designing hand does not make you stoic or dishonest or artificially buoyant. Instead, the reality of God’s design elicits and channels your honest outcry to your one true Savior. God’s design invites honest speech, rather than silencing us into resignation. Consider the honesty of the Psalms, of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38), of Habakkuk 3. These people are bluntly, believingly honest because they know that God is God and set their hopes in him. Psalm 28 teaches you passionate, direct prayer to God. He must hear you. He will hear you. He will continue to work in you and your situation. This outcry comes from your sense of need for help (28:1-2). Then name your particular troubles to God (28:3-5). You are free to personalize with your own particulars. Often in life’s ‘various trials’ (James 1:2), what you face does not exactly map on to the particulars that David or Jesus faced - but the dynamic of faith is the same. Having cast your cares on him who cares for you, then voice your joy (28:6-7): the God-given peace that is beyond understanding. Finally, because faith always works out into love, your personal need and joy will branch out into loving concern for others (28:8-9). Illness can sharpen your awareness of how thoroughly God has already and always been at work in every detail of your life.

2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

DP: The blessing comes in what God does for us, with us, through us. He brings his great and merciful redemption onto the stage of the curse. Your cancer, in itself, is one of those 10,000 ‘shadows of death’ (Psalm 23:4) that come upon each of us: all the threats, losses, pains, incompletion, disappointment, evils. But in his beloved children, our Father works a most kind good through our most grievous losses: sometimes healing and restoring the body (temporarily, until the resurrection of the dead to eternal life), always sustaining and teaching us that we might know and love him more simply. In the testing ground of evils, your faith becomes deep and real, and your love becomes purposeful and wise: James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-39.

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.

DP: God himself is your comfort. He gives himself. The hymn “Be Still My Soul” (by Katerina von Schlegel) reckons the odds the right way: we are 100% certain to suffer, and Christ is 100% certain to meet us, to come for us, comfort us, and restore love’s purest joys. The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” reckons the odds the same way: you are 100% certain to pass through grave distresses, and your Savior is 100% certain to “be with you, your troubles to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress.” With God, you aren’t playing percentages, but living within certainties.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.

We will all die, if Jesus postpones his return. Not to think about what it will be like to leave this life and meet God is folly. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning [a funeral] than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” How can you lay it to heart if you won’t think about it? Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end. How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this? What a waste, if we do not think about death.

DP: Paul describes the Holy Spirit is the unseen, inner ‘downpayment’ on the certainty of life. By faith, the Lord gives a sweet taste of the face-to-face reality of eternal life in the presence of our God and Christ. We might also say that cancer is one ‘downpayment’ on inevitable death, giving one bad taste of the reality of of our mortality. Cancer is a signpost pointing to something far bigger: the last enemy that you must face. But Christ has defeated this last enemy: 1 Corinthians 15. Death is swallowed up in victory. Cancer is merely one of the enemy’s scouting parties, out on patrol. It has no final power if you are a child of the resurrection, so you can look it in the eye.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.

Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know that therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21).

DP: Cherishing Christ expresses the two core activities of faith: dire need and utter joy. Many psalms cry out in a ‘minor key’: we cherish our Savior by needing him to save us from real troubles, real sins, real sufferings, real anguish. Many psalms sing out in a ‘major key’: we cherish our Savior by delighting in him, loving him, thanking him for all his benefits to us, rejoicing that his salvation is the weightiest thing in the world and that he gets last say. And many psalms start out in one key and end up in the other. Cherishing Christ is not monochromatic; you live the whole spectrum of human experience with him. To ‘beat’ cancer is to live knowing how your Father has compassion on his beloved child, because he knows your frame, that you are but dust. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. To live is to know him, whom to know is to love.

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.

It is not wrong to know about cancer. Ignorance is not a virtue. But the lure to know more and more and the lack of zeal to know God more and more is symptomatic of unbelief. Cancer is meant to waken us to the reality of God. It is meant to put feeling and force behind the command, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). It is meant to waken us to the truth of Daniel 11:32, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” It is meant to make unshakable, indestructible oak trees out of us: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2). What a waste of cancer if we read day and night about cancer and not about God.

DP: What is so for your reading is also true for your conversations with others. Other people will often express their care and concern by inquiring about your health. That’s good, but the conversation easily gets stuck there. So tell them openly about your sickness, seeking their prayers and counsel, but then change the direction of the conversation by telling them what your God is doing to faithfully sustain you with 10,000 mercies. Robert Murray McCheyne wisely said, “For every one look at your sins, take ten looks at Christ.” He was countering our tendency to reverse that 10:1 ratio by brooding over our failings and forgetting the Lord of mercy. What McCheyne says about our sins we can also apply to our sufferings. For every one sentence you say to others about your cancer, say ten sentences about your God, and your hope, and what he is teaching you, and the small blessings of each day. For every hour you spend researching or discussing your cancer, spend 10 hours researching and discussing and serving your Lord. Relate all that you are learning about cancer back to him and his purposes, and you won’t become obsessed.

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

When Epaphroditus brought the gifts to Paul sent by the Philippian church he became ill and almost died. Paul tells the Philippians, “He has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (Philippians 2:26-27). What an amazing response! It does not say they were distressed that he was ill, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill. That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people. Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.

DP: Our culture is terrified of facing death. It is obsessed with medicine. It idolizes youth, health and energy. It tries to hide any signs of weakness or imperfection. You will bring huge blessing to others by living openly, believingly and lovingly within your weaknesses. Paradoxically, moving out into relationships when you are hurting and weak will actually strengthen others. ‘One anothering’ is a two-way street of generous giving and grateful receiving. Your need gives others an opportunity to love. And since love is always God’s highest purpose in you, too, you will learn his finest and most joyous lessons as you find small ways to express concern for others even when you are most weak. A great, life-threatening weakness can prove amazingly freeing. Nothing is left for you to do except to be loved by God and others, and to love God and others.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.

Paul used this phrase in relation to those whose loved ones had died: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is a grief at death. Even for the believer who dies, there is temporary loss—loss of body, and loss of loved ones here, and loss of earthly ministry. But the grief is different—it is permeated with hope. “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Don’t waste your cancer grieving as those who don’t have this hope.

DP: Show the world this different way of grieving. Paul said that he would have had “grief upon grief” if his friend Epaphroditus had died. He had been grieving, feeling the painful weight of his friend’s illness. He would have doubly grieved if his friend had died. But this loving, honest, God-oriented grief coexisted with “rejoice always” and “the peace of God that passes understanding” and “showing a genuine concern for your welfare.” How on earth can heartache coexist with love, joy, peace, and an indestructible sense of life purpose? In the inner logic of faith, this makes perfect sense. In fact, because you have hope, you may feel the sufferings of this life more keenly: grief upon grief. In contrast, the grieving that has no hope often chooses denial or escape or busyness because it can’t face reality without becoming distraught. In Christ, you know what’s at stake, and so you keenly feel the wrong of this fallen world. You don’t take pain and death for granted. You love what is good, and hate what is evil. After all, you follow in the image of “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” But this Jesus chose his cross willingly “for the joy set before him.” He lived and died in hopes that all come true. His pain was not muted by denial or medication, nor was it tainted with despair, fear, or thrashing about for any straw of hope that might change his circumstances. Jesus’ final promises overflow with the gladness of solid hope amid sorrows: “My joy will be in you, and your joy will be made full. Your grief will be turned to joy. No one will take your joy away from you. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy will be made full. These things I speak in the world, so that they may have my joy made full in themselves” (selection from John 15-17).

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).

DP: Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? Will you come to terms with death, on your terms? But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. He will walk with you. Of course you’ll fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability or brooding, escapism or fears. But he will always pick you up when you stumble. Your inner enemy - a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer - will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25).

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.

DP: Jesus is your life. He is the man before whom every knee will bow. He has defeated death once for all. He will finish what he has begun. Let your light so shine as you live in him, by him, through him, for him. One of the church’s ancient hymns puts it this way:

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
(from “I bind unto myself the name”).

In your cancer, you will need your brothers and sisters to witness to the truth and glory of Christ, to walk with you, to live out their faith beside you, to love you. And you can do same with them and with all others, becoming the heart that loves with the love of Christ, the mouth filled with hope to both friends and strangers.

Remember you are not left alone. You will have the help you need. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Pastor John

 By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org


Where Is God When It Hurts?

Sunday's message continues to roll around in my mind.  This idea of trusting God seems so obvious and natural, yet not easy.  Oh it's easy to say "trust God" when things are going well, but when life is falling apart. . .then it's not so easy.

I don't know.  I guess it's the honesty surrounding the concept that is making folks say "Wow, this was just for me."  You see, there have been times for me when trusting God has been everything but easy.  I grew up in the church.  I know the way church people are supposed to act.  I know the "religious cliches" and all but when you're in the valley, these don't suffice.

So, I find myself back in Proverbs 3 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." 

In some talks I've had with folks just this week, the question comes us "Where is God when it hurts?"

Here's a good answers from www.gotquestions.org.

It seems we desire to know the answer to this question most when faced with painful trials and attacks of doubt. Even Jesus, during His crucifixion, asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). To the onlookers of that time, as well as to those who first read the story, it seems that God did forsake Jesus, so we obviously conclude that He will forsake us as well in our darkest moments. Yet, upon continued observation of the events that unfolded after the crucifixion, the truth was revealed that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death (Romans 8:37-39). After Jesus was crucified, He was glorified (1 Peter 1:21, Mark 16:6,19; Romans 4:24-25). From this example alone we can be assured that even when we do not feel God’s presence in the midst of our pain, we can still believe His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). “God sometimes permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves” (Joni Erickson Tada).

We put our trust in the fact that God does not lie, He never changes, and His word stands true forever (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Psalm 110:4, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 7:21, 13:8, James 1:17, 1 Peter 1:25). We do not lose heart over painful circumstances because we live by faith in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God, not putting our hope in what is seen or perceived. We trust God that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs all the suffering that we will endure on this earth. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because we know and believe that what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:7). We also trust God’s Word which says He is constantly working things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Even though we do not always see the good ends to which God is working things out, we can be assured that a time will come when we will understand and see more clearly.

Our lives are like the illustration of a quilt. If you look at the back side of a quilt, all you see is a mess of knots and loose ends hanging out all over. It is very unattractive and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the work. Yet when you turn the quilt over, you see how the maker has craftily woven together each strand to form a beautiful creation, much like the life of a believer (Isaiah 64:8). We live with a limited understanding for the things of God, yet a day is coming when we will know and understand all things (Job 37:5, Isaiah 40:28 Ecclesiastes 11:5, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:2). Where is God when it hurts? The message to take with you in hard times is that when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart, and know for certain that He has not forsaken you. When you seem to have no strength of your own, that’s when you can most fully rest in His presence and know that His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


Veterans Day Article by Jack Tarkington

My dad is the city manager in Paris, Tennessee.  He writes a weekly article for the local paper - the Paris Post-Intelligencer.  I thought it would be appropriate to repost his article from this week, focused on Veterans Day.

My dad, Jack Tarkington, served in the US Air Force for over 25 years.  Through his life, I learned what it meant to be patriotic, God fearing and one who honors the men and women who have served our nation valiantly.

In his articles, he often refers to men and women in the Paris, Tennessee region that he grew up with.

Here's this week's article:

Jack The first part of September kicked off the beginning of the school year, the official end of summer and the beginning of the holiday season.

In most people’s minds, Labor Day is the inauguration of the holiday celebrations. For the next six months, there is at least one holiday per month. They run the gamut from those only celebrated in the United States to those celebrated around the world.

Some are religious, some patriotic, some honor individuals, some result in days off work for most everyone, some have no one off work, some only federal and bank employees celebrate, and some others seem to only be for the benefit of the florists and Hallmark.


Almost all the holidays have become so commercialized, their original intent has almost been lost.

Where each holiday used to have its special moment, now the commercialization has become so great, the ones that generate the most revenue for the retail industry are promoted for such an extended time that when the date arrives, it seems anti-climactic.

This is most evident with Christmas. It wasn’t that long ago that Christmas sales did not begin, nor decorations go up, until after Thanksgiving.

Now, these are happening right after Labor Day. At the current pace, it won’t be long until the Christmas sales begin in conjunction with the Fourth of July fireworks.

Most everyone will admit that, even though Christmas is a celebration based upon Christian tenants, it has become almost entirely a secular celebration that non-Christians readily celebrate.

There is only one holiday where those intended to be honored become the primary ones organizing any events associated with it, and then become the ones doing the honoring. That is Veterans Day.

Veterans Day, referred to years ago as Armistice Day, was established to recognize the signing of the treaty to end World War I. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month became the official date and time set aside for the recognition.

Not many years after its formal establishment, our country was drawn into World War II, and it took on a new meaning as patriotic sacrifice touched almost every family throughout the country. This tradition continued through the ’50s with our involvement in the Korean War.

It was only after the Baby Boomer generation came of age and the Vietnam War ensued did patriotic celebrations and recognition begin to wane. This trend continued throughout the end of the 20th century and only seemed to turn around after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It is unfortunate it took something of this nature to remind everyone of veterans and what they have accomplished throughout the history of this country.

The veteran cannot necessarily be readily identified. To those of my generation, when we were growing up, he was always the age of our parents.

Most likely, he had been in the Army and spent an extended amount of time marching across Europe. A few had served in the Navy, fewer still in the Marines, and saw most of their duty in the Pacific.

There were others, closer to the age of our uncles and older brothers, who shipped off to Korea. Again, most were in the Army, several in the Marines, some in the Navy and now the Air Force, not the Army Air Corps.

Before long we came of age and became candidates to join the fraternity of veterans. The opportunity presented itself in an unglamorous and unpopular war in Vietnam.

The draft loomed for most young men turning 18 in the 1960s. If you did not get the school deferment, get in the National Guard or get married at an early age, it was pretty well a given you would get drafted into the Army to serve for two years. For those deferments, when they expired, the draft was waiting.

While the Army still had the most numbers, the Marines, Navy and Air Force were all actively involved in Vietnam, as was even the Coast Guard.

We would wait for the draft notice for our physicals or go see a recruiter to volunteer to avoid the draft. If we volunteered, we could choose a different branch of service than the Army. This worked for most of us.

Robert “Scooter” Miller and Don Speight were the exceptions. As they completed their draft physicals and prepared to head off to basic from the induction center, they were pulled aside with a few others and informed they would be spending the next two years in the Marine Corps instead of the Army.

Now, we of the Vietnam era are the veterans to our children that our parents were to us.

The generation after us still served, but it was all-volunteer and, while there were small conflicts and skirmishes around the world, there was almost 30 years between the pullout of Vietnam and beginning of the conflicts in the Mideast.

The face of the potential veteran had changed. It was now our children and grandchildren. It was a more-educated person. High-tech weapons and computers were the norm.

There were also those close to our age who previously had only served as backup support, the National Guard and the Reserve, who were now on the front.

The biggest change is that it is no longer just our husbands, sons and grandsons participating in the midst of conflict, but also our wives, daughters and granddaughters.

They are soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. Like their fathers and grandfathers before them, they do what is asked of them to the best of their ability for as long as it takes.

There are several events occurring this week in the area intended to honor and recognize our veterans. Those responsible for coordinating these events are to be commended and thanked.

Those of us who are members of that elite fraternity thank you. We who have worn the military uniform, either for a short time or for a career, share a bond those who have not worn one cannot understand.

We are proud to be a Grunt, Swabbie, Jarhead, Flyboy or Coastie, and we have earned the right to jokingly refer to each other in those terms because, in the end, we were all serving for the same cause and would defend each other to the end.

Thanks, fellow vets; proud to be one of you.